CrayCray Bread

This breakfast bread cray.

CRAYCRAY BREAD!

And so much better than fish-filet. I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest and decided to add my own twist to it. It’s original recipe makes a traditional, blueberry breakfast cake, but I thought I could jazz it up with a few more berries, cinnamon/nutmeg, and of course a homemade streusel topping. OM NOM NOM.

This recipe is SUPER simple, and takes about 10 minutes to put together (bake time isn’t too long either, which is good because you’ll probably be sitting in front of you oven salivating).

Here’s what you’ll need for the bread:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (salted is okay too, just cut back on the kosher salt if you use it)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (about the amount of zest from 1 big lemon)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg room temp (sounds dumb, but I promise will make a little difference, if you’re not that ambitious, no one cares/will notice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Ground Cinnamon to taste
  • Ground Nutmeg to taste

Okay, so first you’re going to preheat the oven to 350 Farenheit. Cream the butter, sugars and lemon zest together until the mixture is fluffy and looks like something that would make Paula Deen do a double take.

Then, add in the egg and vanilla and beat them until their all combined really well. On the side, get a small bowl and toss the berries with a 1/4 cup of the flour you’re going to use. Put the rest of the flour, baking powder and salt in the butter mixture.

Add the flour mixture in a little bit at a time, as excited as you may be to get this thing made so you can devour the whole cake. Alternate pouring the flour mixture in along with the buttermilk.

Finally, fold in the berries and whatever flour settled at the bottom of that bowl. After you mix it all up, add the cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Some like a more prominent spice flavor while others just want them to play supporting roles. When I made it this time, I probably used a rough 2 teaspoons or so of both the cinnamon and nutmeg.

 Here’s what you’ll need for the Streusel topping, and this is from one of my favorite cookbooks by Susan Branch:

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup softened butter

This streusel topping is as simple as mixing all those ingredients together in a bowl with a big fork until you get a delicious crumbly mixture.

TIME TO BAKE!

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or non-stick spray. I also like using parchment paper a lot so there’s less clean up. No one’s going to fault you for being lazy (especially me). Pour the cake batter into the pan and make sure it’s all even. Then put your delicious streusel topping on top of that. Doesn’t hurt to sprinkle a little extra brown sugar on top for good measure.

Bake for 35 minutes, although I ended up leaving mine in a little bit longer, it all depends on the fussiness of your oven. Let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving unless you just can’t wait any longer, which again, no one will fault you for.

When you make this, don’t expect the streusel topping to become crunchy. It stays pretty soft, which I originally thought was EHHHH but when you serve it later, it makes it taste like it just came out of the oven! SOOOO go forth. GO CRAY. And enjoy this CrayCray Bread.

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It’s a Girl!

I’d like to welcome my newest food baby into the world.

I won’t bother you with the weight and length, that would probably be a little graphic. But let’s just say I’m a proud parent. Might even invest in one of those obnoxious “My child is an honor student!” bumper stickers people so tactfully slap on the back of their minivan. Although in this case my child is not an honor student but rather the product of a delicious dinner at The Retreat in Liverpool.

This place is definitely a favorite of mine, and the menu offers a lot of variety at modest prices. Usually I’m a little skeptical when a menu is so diverse, it opens the door for the possibility of a lesser quality food. When there are so many options, I find the restaurant will often sacrifice quality in honor of diversity. But, this is not so at The Retreat!

I recommend going with a good number of people so you can all dig into each other’s meals and try as much as you can! I was fortunate enough to go with some great people who just happen to have some fabulous taste as well. There were a few couples canoodling (someone please slap me for using that word) in the corners, there were plenty of families and groups of friends out to eat too. It’s a great setting that’s sure to fit whatever type of night you’re trying to have.

Utica Greens at The Retreat

We started off with the Utica Greens, an appetizer that I’ve seen frequent many a Syracuse restaurant. It’s escarole sautéed in olive oil with peppers, garlic, Asiago or pecorino cheese, and of course pancetta. It’s got the consistency of collard greens or sautéed spinach, but the flavor is a bit different. This dish was served with the cheese browned on the top, and was delicious! The pancetta was very flavorful and the greens weren’t soaking in olive oil, which was nice. Sometimes I’ve gotten the greens from other restaurants and wished I’d brought along a snorkel for the amount of oil that was present. But The Retreat does a nice dish! Although, I still say the best Utica Greens in the area (that I’ve had so far) are at Gentile’s.

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Whiskey Pineapple Chicken (Sauce on the side)

For my entrée, I got the Whiskey Pineapple Chicken. Just take that all in. Whiskey. Pineapple. Chicken. The menu modestly describes this sauce as “zesty.” I think this is a code word for “orgasmic.” This sauce is out of bounds. I think I took it a little too far when I asked our server if they sold it by the quart (the answer was unfortunately “no.”). The chicken had that awesome char-grill flavor that just can’t be imitated, and the green beans it came with were cooked just right.

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Jenna ordered the Chicken Riggies, a pasta dish that’s reserved for the bold and the brave. So much flavor, so much food, you need to know what you’re getting yourself

Chicken Riggies at The Retreat

into. But, Jenna’s a champ so I had no doubts. Chicken Riggies are fresh chicken tenderloins sautéed with hot cherry peppers, mushrooms, julienned onions, white wine, Italian herbs, Asiago and Romano cheese, tossed with rigatonis (of course) in The Retreat’s “cream sauce supreme.” The highlight for me was the chicken, it was literally melt in your mouth and so soft (I know that’s a weird way to describe chicken, but order this and you’ll know what I’m talking about). I would exchange my tempur-pedic pillow for this chicken it was so tender. Extreme? Perhaps. Necessary? Yes. The sauce was good, and the veggies in the pasta were great. Although I am extremely biased and snobby when it comes to pasta after my semester in Italy, this dish was definitely a contender.

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Chicken Pita at The Retreat

Alanah was kind enough to order the other dish I was thinking of getting before the words Whiskey Pineapple made my decision for me. She got the Chicken Pita, which was a perfect example of the “less is more” theory. This dish was just a boneless chicken breast in a pita with lettuce, tomato grilled onions (nom) with a side of cucumber sauce. May sound lack luster to you, but honestly this was GREAT! I will definitely be getting this next time I go (aka tomorrow). The pita was SO SOFT! I’m sure my chicken tenderloin pillow won’t keep too long, so I’ll use the pita as a back up. It was soft, not too thick, and a really great flavor, even being just a simple little pita. The chicken of course was great (I am biased when it comes to chicken, given the opportunity I would eat it for just about every meal), and the cucumber sauce was very light and refreshing. GREAT dish, great size, great choice!

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My Mom was kind enough to join our group today, and made a great culinary choice per usual. She got the Chicken Foccacia Melt, a grilled chicken breast with imported Havarti cheese served on grilled Foccacia bread. They also throw on some roasted red peppers,

Chicken Foccacia Sandwich at The Retreat

sweet onion, and some mixed greens. All this served with a Bistro-mayo on the side. Let me first say that I HATE mayonnaise, it grosses me out, and we don’t have a good history together. But this Bistro-mayo is good. I enjoyed it. The sandwich was good too, I’m going to stop myself before going on about the chicken, but as I’m sure you can guess, it was very good. I loved the mix of veggies on this sandwich, and the cheese was a great add-on. The bread was soft and didn’t detract from the rest of the flavors. Great choice!

“Dessert is not an option. It is necessary.”

– Jenna Cottrell

Maybe the wisest words to grace my ears.

How true. HOW true. And thank goodness, The Retreat’s dessert menu is just as extensive as the rest of their menu. It took us about ten minutes to decide, and that was with the help of our awesome and knowledgable server Michelle. ASK FOR HER, SHE IS GREAT! After much consideration and deliberation, it was decided that the “Peanut Butter Thunder” would be the dish to end the evening. Talk about a happy ending (that’s what she said). This dessert was honestly the best I’ve had in a while.

Peanut Butter Thunder at The Retreat

Now, I don’t know if Michelle cut the piece herself, but it was VERY generously sliced, and of course served with 4 forks. It’s again, so simple, yet so amazing. Just chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and peanuts on top. It’s layered and looks absolutely massive. BUT DON’T BE INTIMIDATED. Keep calm and carry on. Or in this case just pick up your fork and dig in before the others realize how good it is. This cake looked like it would make your teeth fall out, but was actually SO light and so wonderful. The chocolate cake part was definitely good, but I think the standout was the peanut butter frosting. It had a whipped, moussey (not a word but, oh well) consistency and wasn’t like being punched in the face by an over-zealous Mr. Peanut. It’s flavor was subtle, yet always reminded you of its presence. Kind of like that one big guy friend you bring out with you at night so no randos bug you. You know he’s there, but he’s not all up in your face distracting you from the rest of your friends. Thanks, peanut butter frosting. You do so much without doing anything at all. The Peanut Butter Thunder was a great way to end the evening, although I’m sure the “thunder” part of the name comes from the thunder thighs you will surely receive as you are leaving the restaurant. Oh well. YOLO.

Overall, great food, great atmosphere, great service. And in case you just skipped down to the rating, here are the highlights:

1. Chicken Pita: bangin.

2. Whiskey Pineapple Chicken: oh wow.

3. PEANUT BUTTER THUNDER: just order it first and save yourself the trouble of anticipation.

Go to The Retreat! Wonderful spot for just about any occasion, and they even do catering and banquets. I will definitely be returning, and soon. Tonight, I left with No Leftovers.

Out of 5 chef hats…

Location: 4

Atmosphere: 3.8

Food Quality: 4

Service: 5

Bang for your Buck: 4.7

Coming Back? YES!

Restaurant Website:
http://retreatrestaurant.com/

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Extras: Jenna’s Whale Bread (please notice delicately placed butter pupil)

Jenna’s Whale Bread

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Go Bananas.

Paying homage to the greatest combination of all time.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate and peanut butter. Need I say more?

Probably not. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here and assuming that you too can think of no greater pairing than chocolate and peanut butter. Throw in a banana too? Now it’s a party.

I feel bad for bananas in a way. As people age, you are considered “distinguished” and enter your “golden years.” Unfortunately, bananas do not meet such a similar and enjoyable fate. The freckled to dark brown banana is at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the fruit food chain. I mean honestly, would you choose to nom on a rotten banana over some fresh blueberries? I didn’t think so.

That being said, we need to find a way to make sure these bananas don’t meet their maker laying at the bottom of a trash can or worse…being picked over by crows in some rando’s backyard.

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD TO THE RESCUE!

I think they’d be honored. This recipe is absolutely bangin, and very easy to make. Oh and most of all it’s amazing. You can pat yourself on the back knowing that you’ve used a would-be-dismissed food in a delicious and productive way. Go you!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • A dash of salt
  • 1 cup (generous, people) mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter (I personally like Teddie’s Natural Extra Crunchy)
  • 2 tablespoons Honey

Heat your oven to 350, and get excited. That part is not optional. Generously spray two loaf pans, they should be about 8.5/4.5/2.5 inches, but don’t fret if you’ve got something a bit different. After greasing the pans, I recommend dusting the inside with flour. This bread is so awesome, but also dense and of course moist so if you dust the pans with flour, it’ll make removing the bread to devour a lot easier. In a big mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together except the chocolate chips (which I recommend eating handfuls as you go, just to make sure that they taste alright). Blend all the ingredients well on a medium speed. Stir in the choco-choco-chips. If you want to add some walnuts, be my guest. I find that if I use crunchy peanut butter that’s enough texture for me. You don’t want to overdo it. Too much of a good thing in my book. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the outside is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool them for about 10 minutes, then take them out of the pans. You may want to dive in right now, but I’d recommend waiting until they’re a bit cooler. But, I don’t think anyone will blame you for eating them right away.

Bring these to friends or family and you will surely be rewarded and praised profusely. For some reason people are amazed by this bread and look at you in wonder as to how you could have possibly created it from scratch. You’ll rest easy knowing you fooled everyone into thinking you’re Betty Crocker’s distant cousin. Go forth and enjoy.

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There’s a time a place to be a slut.

 

When you’re making a batch of Slutty Brownies.

Or in this case, the even Sluttier Brownies.

Sluttier Brownies

A friend graced me with the original recipe of these “Slutty Brownies” about a month ago, and ever since I’ve been dying to try. As soon as I saw the end result of this so-easy-your-cat-could-make recipe, I knew that a chapter of my life would be spent making these brownies and starting a quest looking for a way to improve them.

So, this week I’m home on my very glamorous Spring Break at the Goodson Resort. Don’t worry about beach attire, all you need is an old Allman Brother’s t-shirt and ripped sweatpants to walk around in 24/7. Shower needed? Nope. Just throw your hair on top of your head. There’s no poolside service, but a buffet of baked goods scattered about the counter. Pool boy? Nope. Just your Dad walking around with a protein shake talking about his latest health kick. Palm Trees? Oh no, just some dead Upstate NY trees trying to make their Spring comeback.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have some time on my hands at the moment.

The original recipe for these is SUPER easy, and you can find it at this girl’s blog. Definitely someone I plan on meeting some day as I find that we share a similar love of awful-for-you treats.

Slutty Brownies are named so because they are just so filthy. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 box of chocolate chip cookie mix
  • 1 box of brownie mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 or 2 (depending on your optimal level of sugar intake) Packages of DOUBLE STUFF oreos
  • A wee bit of oil
  • Favorite Ice Cream (If you so choose. But why would you not?)

You preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking tray with some parchment paper. Mix up the cookies and lay that batter down first. Then carefully and strategically place the double stuff oreos on top of the cookie dough batter. Mix up the brownie mix and pour over all of that, and bake for 30 minutes! Let it cool for a bit and then chop some up and serve it with you favorite ice cream.

I made some tweaks to this already delicious recipe.

Instead of buying boxed cookie mix, I decided to do a homemade batch. Something about box cookie mix is just very unappealing. If you have the time and committment I recommend the homemade version. Here’s the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies that I used:

  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • .5 TSP baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • .5 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 TSP pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (you can use milk chocolate, too)

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix well with a whisk and set it off to the side. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer blend the sugars at medium speed. Add butter to form a grainy paste. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix that deliciousness until it’s light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and chocolate chips but don’t overmix!

Now, I did use brownie mix because I wasn’t feeling so fancy to the point where I would make homemade brownies. But you totally can! I recommend any box mix with the words Ultimate Fudge, Double Fudge, Heart Attack, Extra Cholesterol and Love, or Ghiradelli. Any of those are usually a wise choice.

One of my baking secrets that I’ll share with you is that I ALWAYS add about another 1.5 cups of chocolate chips to the batter. It just makes them so much more gooey and wonderful.

When baking these Slutty Brownies, the original recipe says 30 minutes but if you do the homemade cookie part and the added chocolate chips, I’d bake for around 40-45, but make sure the brownies don’t get cakey because that’s just sacrilegious.

They came out WONDERFUL and I have already consumed half the batch.

I am currently working on my own recipe for Trampy Brownies so be on the lookout for that. I hope to have that up in the next couple of days, after making a few test batches of course.

Now go get your slut on. Many thanks to The Londoner for giving the world of brownies and baked goods a much needed face-lift. You’re an inspiration to us all.

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Junk in the Trunk

Yes, you read that correctly. Junk. In the Trunk.

Except this kind doesn’t come in Apple Bottom jeans. It’s one of the many homemade desserts at the Dark Horse Tavern in Dewitt. Life is uncertain, and so I say eat dessert first! Alas, we’ll start this blog by talking about the one and only Junk in the Trunk, a house specialty at an unassuming gem of a restaurant, right off of East Genessee Street.

But, let me first begin by saying that if you go to this restaurant, PLEASE do not be put off by the front of the building. I’ll be honest, this place literally has one window in the front (not to mention covered in blinds so you can’t even see inside) and looks like the outside of a storage garage. But, it’s probably my new favorite place in the city of Syracuse.

The Dark Horse Tavern may be the exact size of a shoe box….alright maybe a little bigger. But it’s exactly what you would expect when you hear the word “tavern.” Dim lighting, bustling bar, and cozy booths…not to mention a good basketball game on.

As promised, we’ll start with the dessert this time. The Dark Horse serves only homemade desserts, cooked by none other than one of their ex-employees. We were told by our waitress that this woman used to make all the desserts when she worked there, but when she left, she took the treats with her. Apparently, people stopped ordering desserts all together because nothing was quite as good as this lady’s concoctions. So, after working out a deal, they buy the desserts from her to sell in the restaurant. And I think it’s safe to say it’s the best deal made since the Louisiana Purchase. THIS CAKE WAS NUTS.

After hearing the list, the one that stood out the most was clearly Junk in the Trunk. Everything else sounded delicious, of course, but how can you possibly pass up a name like that? Our server described it as “if you mushed a brownie with pudding and chocolate chips and another brownie and more pudding and more chocolate chips with a cool whip topping.” I’m sorry. Why are you still standing there when you could be on your way back to the kitchen to fetch that lovely creation for me?

Junk In Da Trunk Cake at The Dark Horse Tavern

WOW. Super dense, and of course chocolatey. The cool whip topping was the perfect finish to this cake because it didn’t try to steal the rest of the dessert’s thunder. Any other frosting would have been an attention whore. Just let the chocolate brownie and pudding do its thing. It wasn’t overly sweet, and was super moist (please note that I hate the word moist, and to use it is a big deal). If you go to The Dark Horse, please do not pass up the chance to get this one-of-a-kind dessert.

ALRIGHT. Back to business. Luckily, I went with two fellow food enthusiasts so we were able to try a smattering of items on the menu.

Four Cheese Eggplant Appetizer

The appetizer special was a four cheese eggplant dish. Need I say more? It was a classy version of the best mozzerella stick you’ve ever had. I’m currently suffering from a burnt tongue because I could not wait to eat this hot mess as soon as the plate was put in front of us. The marinara was out of bounds, and the cheeses were to die for. It was a mixture of Mozzerella, Fontina, Asiago and Parmesan, the Rat Pack of cheeses. The eggplant was really flavorful and perfectly cooked.

Wasabi Yuzu Tuna

I decided to splurge and get one of the entrees, something I definitely do not regret. I ordered the Wasabi Yuzu Tuna…a lot easier to eat than say. It was an 8 oz. tuna steak, cooked medium rare (nom nom nom), drizzled with wasabi yuzu vinaigrette, finished with wonton crisps and green onions. I’m pretty sure this thing was on my plate for a total of 4 minutes. It was DELICIOUS. Even if you’re not into the tuna scene, I say try it. You have no idea what you’re missing. And don’t be put off by the wasabi part, I do enjoy a nice spicy dish but this was by no means hot. Just super flavorful and satisfying. It came with some broccoli which I didn’t shut up about for the entire meal, and some rice which was also very tasty.

Chicken Portobello Mushroom Sandwich

Alanah got the Chicken Portobello Sandwich…a wise choice. A grilled and marinated Portobello mushroom cap, some grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, provolone, french mustard, on a toasted basil and herb foccacia bread. I think calling this a sandwich is an insult because it was so delicious. The bread was super soft, and everything in the sandwich worked perfectly together. This is one dish that is sure not to disappoint.

Jenna decided on “The Dip,” a perfect choice for those of you who enjoy roast beef every now and again. I don’t usually order such a sandwich, but I’m so glad she did because this was so great! Really glad I tried it. It’s house marinated roast beef, SUPER thin (only way to have it) on a seasoned hard roll. Served with the classic au jus and DHT sauce. This thing tasted like candy it was so good. The beef was super tender and the au jus…..just wow. Honestly no words. I would definitely order this next time I decide to trek on over to The Dark Horse.

Recommended to me by a teacher, I was definitely pleasantly surprised by The Dark Horse. I loved the atmosphere, the food, and the service was OUTSTANDING. The staff is very friendly, attentive, personable, and ready to get you just about anything you’ll need. Which is probably just a napkin…or five…and someone to keep pinching you to make sure you’re not dreaming. The food here is awesome, and moderately priced. You can get great quality grub for anywhere from 8 dollars, to the daily special which can be up to 28. But it’s WORTH IT. Definitely a great place for just about any occasion: a night out with friends, a date, business dinner, whatever. Family friendly too! I will definitely be returning. Although my friends had to take some things home…I left with No Leftovers.

Out of 5 chef hats…

Location: 2

Atmosphere: 4.5

Food Quality: 4.8

Service: 4.7

Bang for your Buck: 4.8

Coming back? YES!

Restaurant Menu (no website available): http://www.cnymenus.com/menus/darkhorse_jan12.pdf

Pure Joy.

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Back in the saddle again..

Oh wow.

That’s all I have to say. Oh wow. One of my main concerns coming back from Italy would be of course the inevitable reverse culture shock…and of course depression. But even more than that would be literally starving to death. After having an amazing host mom cook for me 5 nights of the week and being able to explore the side streets of Florence, I was positive that I would physically no longer be able to eat American food. I mean, let’s be honest, we’re not exactly known for our gourmet and to-die-for cuisine. Subway? Oh yeah. A six-inch sounds great. Please load on my “freshly toasted bread” some turkey that has a shelf life of 6 weeks. Oh and some soggy/still frozen tomatoes? Yeah, sounds perfect. Oh do you want some dessert? Sure! Please, let’s head on over to the nearest Dunkin Donuts for a Manager’s special that’s been sitting out for about 16 hours. Kill me now?

Anyways, now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, let’s talk about the dinner I just had at Empire Brewing Company in Armory Square. I finally have some faith in American food again. It was very reasurring…and delicious. Maybe it was amplified by the Deep Purple beer that I started with…but hey, everybody needs a crutch. We’re starting off slow here. I’m still not ready to jump into a relationship with food from America again. But, like I said, my dinner this evening gives me hope that there is still great food out there that isn’t across the Atlantic on Via Borgo Pinti in Firenze.

Empire Brewing Company in Armory Square is a really eclectic place that’s casual and yet offers some great food at a reasonable price. The perfect post-game hang out or night out with a group of friends, which is exactly why I was there (UCONN sucks).

Deep Purple beer at Empire Brewing Company

I’m not really a beer person but let me just say that I had quite the pleasant pint this evening. Empire always has some great beer on tap, and tonight I had one called Deep Purple. It’s a wheat beer made with New York State concord grapes, which gives is this awesome dark purple color (wonder where they got the name?). It’s fruity but not to the point where you feel like you’re getting slapped in the mouth by an over-zealous grape. A bit tart and dry, but very smooth at the same time. It’s a great beer if you can’t decide between a pint and a pinot.

The menu is extensive and offers just about anything to satisfy even the pickiest pallet.

Chicken Nachos

While we were still deciding on dinner, we got an order of the Chicken Nachos…again, OH WOW. Really great. The chicken was delicious, kind of a pulled pork texture and in big chunks (a phrase I try not to use describing anything edible but they were literally big delicious chunks). Cheese was melty and smothering the chips which were delightfully thin and crispy…but still strong enough to hold up the awesome guac and pico. GREAT START. GOOD JOB EMPIRE.

Catfish Burrito

Next we moved on to dinner, and naturally I couldn’t decide, so I split two entrees with a friend. We got the Catfish Burrito and the Moroccan Salmon. The burrito was the size of a small child and came with red beans and rice. It was GREAT. Even if you’re not a catfish person I recommend getting this. The catfish is crunchy, coated in a blue corn breading, which contrasts nicely with the rest of the burrito’s residents which include lettuce, tomato, cheddar jack cheese and chipotle mayo. YUM. This thing was huge though, I would say split it or take half home and pretending you’ll eat it tomorrow for lunch…but secretly eat the rest a couple hours later. Sorry I’m not sorry.

The salmon was literally cooked to perfection. Now, I’m a fan of lemon on my seafood and

Moroccan Salmon

the grilled lemon slices they served with this fancy fish really made the flavors pop. According to the menu it’s seasoned with a 7 spice rub. Great, I don’t doubt that. This thing tasted awesome. The cucumber salad that came with it was alright, I kind of dismissed it because I was having a conniption about how good the salmon was.  

By this point the button on my pants had flown off and hit the woman two tables over in the face and I was seriously rethinking the two entree choice….but naturally that time passed (approximately 5 seconds) and we ordered dessert. Chocolate Lava Cake with Raspberry Sauce, please. Oh, and homemade ice cream? Yeah. My taste buds and arteries will love that!

This cake was out of bounds. I’m defenseless in front of anything chocolate, and this was no exception. Perfect amount of lava, but not too hot where you burn your mouth on the

Chocolate Lava Cake

searing sauce because you’re just so damn excited about this cake that’s been put in front of you. The temperature allows you to devour in it an unhumanly and disgusting amount of time…I think I clocked in at about 2 minutes. Proud? Somewhat. Pathetic? Oh, definitely. Surprised? No.

And as I slowly started to get up and force my jacket to close around my now protruding stomach I felt full. Of hope and delicious food. Maybe American food doesn’t suck as badly as I originally thought. The key I think is finding the right places. Find the hole in the wall restaurants and avoid chains at all costs. Please promise me you won’t step foot in an Olive Garden. Just please don’t do it. I’ll allow it once they start serving Italian food.

And please go to Empire Brewing Co. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I’ll definitely be returning, and hopefully next time I’ll be able to control myself. This place is worth the money and has a great atmosphere. And don’t worry if there’s a wait, grab a beer that’s literally brewed on the premises and just hang out. And get some chicken nachos while you’re waiting of course. This time, as usual, I left with No Leftovers.

Out of 5 chef hats….

Location: 3.5

Atmosphere: 4.5

Food Quality: 4.5

Service: 4

Bang for your Buck: 4

Coming Back? Yes!

Restaurant Website: http://empirebrew.com/index.php

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Stateside

Ciao!

To much of my dismay I have returned from the land of wine, pasta and perfection: ITALIA! Unfortunately, I was unable to blog over there like I thought I would be, so I’ll be playing catch up over the next few weeks. Keep a look out for new reviews, Italian recipes from the cooking classes I took, and photos of course!

Ciao a tutti!

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